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How Useful Are Expert Mocks? A Side-by-Side Comparison

There are a lot of expert mock drafts out there. They're useful because they give you a good idea of who people who write about fantasy football are targeting.

But there are a LOT more people who play fantasy football who aren't writers, and the drafts you actually do this month are bound to look a lot different than the expert mock drafts you see on fantasy football websites. I wanted to get an idea of what a normal draft might look like so we could talk about the differences, so I asked for volunteers on Twitter to do a mock. I got 11 people plus myself, since Sleeper wouldn't let me make a mock and then not be part of it.

Here's the link to the draft board. Here, for comparison, is the link to our most recent staff mock. Let's talk about some of the key takeaways from the non-writers mock.

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Non-Expert Mock Results


Expert Mock Results


The Value Of Quarterbacks

In our non-writer mock, the first quarterback off the board was Patrick Mahomes at 3.2. In our staff mock, the first quarterback off the board was Patrick Mahomes at 4.11. Mahomes was the only quarterback to go before Round 6 in our staff mock, but in the non-writer mock we had Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck go in the fifth and then Deshaun Watson go earlier in the sixth than a QB went in the staff mock.

By the end of Round 10, the non-writer mock had seen 12 quarterbacks drafted. In the staff mock, 10 quarterbacks had gone.

Quarterbacks go earlier in real drafts. While I'm still an advocate for waiting on the position, expert mocks can mislead you about how long you're able to wait on the position. When you sit down with your home league and devote yourself to waiting until Round 10 for a quarterback, there's a good chance the pickings will be a lot slimmer than you'll think they'll be.

The non-writer mock also had a run of four straight quarterbacks in the 10th. Every team that didn't have one panicked and grabbed one. Runs happen in real life. You pass up on a QB and by the next time you're up, Josh Allen is the best guy left. I still think you should slow your roll when it comes to your QB and not jump the gun with, like, a fifth-round pick of Russell Wilson or something, but be willing to be proactive if there's a certain guy you want.


The Early Rounds Looked Basically The Same

Both drafts started with the big four backs in some order (and Ezekiel Elliott fourth of those guys) and then DeAndre Hopkins. 11 of the first-round picks were the same in each league, with the only difference being Tyreek Hill making the first round in the staff mock and Dalvin Cook making the first round in the non-writer mock.

Round 2 was basically the same. Damien Williams fell to the third in the non-writer mock. The couple of days between drafts made Melvin Gordon go from a second-rounder in the non-writer version to a third-rounder in the staff mock.

The first three or four rounds of any fantasy draft are probably going to look virtually the same unless you're in a league where someone doesn't know what they're doing. Everyone in the non-writer mock knew what they were doing, so nothing too wild happened, like when someone in my home league picked Jimmy Garoppolo as the first quarterback off the board last year.


The Second Tight End Run

Travis Kelce went in the second round in both. Zach Ertz and George Kittle went in the third round in both. Beyond that, it was hard to really make much sense of the difference between the drafts until the very end.

O.J. Howard went Round 5 in the staff mock, but once Round 6 hit, both drafts featured middle rounds where we saw one or two tight ends go per round. There wasn't really a run, because everyone seemed to have a different strategy when it came to what tight ends to target.

The big difference was that in the non-writer, once people started drafting their second tight end, everyone started drafting their second tight end. Between pick 13.8 and 14.9, seven tight ends were picked.

One thing that a lot of fantasy writers will say is that you don't need to draft a second tight end. Only half of the staff league did. But three-quarters of the teams in the non-writer mock went with second tight ends. Two of the teams who didn't drafted right after the run, so I'm willing to guess that part of why they didn't grab a second tight end was because there was no one left.

And that's the big tight end takeaway. In your home league, people are going to take a second tight end, and if you're planning to run with just one, it might be a good idea to pick one of the top five or six players at the position. Because the tight end waiver wire is looking really thin this year, so taking someone like Trey Burton or Mark Andrews as your only tight end and hoping you can get production off waivers won't work when everyone owns all the tight ends.


Kickers and Defenses

Both mock drafts featured defense and kicker because while Twitter would lead you to believe that no one in the world plays with those things, in actuality most leagues still feature them.

In the staff mock, no D/ST went until the Bears at 14.3, and no kicker went until Greg Zuerlein at 15.3. Two teams -- including me -- went D/ST in 14 and kicker in 15, while everyone else saved one or the other for the final round. I liked that strategy for me, which gave me a shot at top pieces at both positions while not sacrificing too much by waiting a little longer to grab my last position player.

In the non-writer mock, that strategy didn't work so well.

The first D/ST taken there were the Bears in the ninth round and by the end of Round 12, four D/ST had gone. For kickers, the first kicker taken was Zuerlein in the 13th, with Justin Tucker going one spot later. Only five defenses or kickers went in the draft's final round, as most teams had their starters at those positions already. One team took two D/ST. No one took two kickers.

The takeaway? In reality, people don't wait as long on these positions. If you're devoted to streaming, that's good for you, as it means you can stock up on position players earlier. But if you're someone who plans to take a top kicker or defense and hold onto them (which, hey, I've done it in the past and won leagues), you can't wait until the final three rounds to do so.

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